When a married couple decides to divorce, it may come as a shock to one spouse when the court rules his or her non-marital property has actually been converted to marital property, and it is therefore subject to equitable division. In fact, the transmutation of non-marital assets into martial assets can happen by accident by either party.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) identifies non-marital property as the following:
- Property acquired by gift, legacy or descent;
- Property acquired in exchange for other non-marital property;
- Property acquired by a spouse after a judgment of legal separation;
- Property both spouses agree is non-marital property;
- Property acquired through a judgment awarded to a spouse from the other spouse;
- Property acquired before the marriage; and
- Any increase in value of non-marital property.
Notwithstanding the definition of marital property as any property acquired by the couple after they are legally married, and the clear listing of what constitutes non-marital property, there are cases where property cannot be easily distinguished as either marital or non-marital....